The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has demanded police investigate Head of Male’ Municipality Adam Manik “for attacking a DhiTV cameraman and snatching his camera while [the cameraman] was covering news outside Male’ Municipality.”
The MJA alleged that Manik attacked the cameraman, Hussain Najah, while he was filming a dispute between Manik and the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) on Wednesday.
The previous day municipality workers had removed banners put up by the IFM promoting a sermon by Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed, entitled ‘Entire Medina has dimmed’.
The MJA statement claims the organisation was informed by DhiTV that the journalist was “physically hurt” when attacked. The MJA called on police to investigate the case “and media to condemn the attack and protest against it.”
“The MJA believes Mr Manik has behaved in a very dirty manner, which we have seen from the politicians of primitive societies,” the MJA said.
Manik admitted confiscating the camera but denied attacking the cameraman.
“Cameramen are not allowed to film on government property without authorisation,” he said.
“The Islamic Foundation put banners on plants in Sultans Park. The garbage collectors have standing orders to clean up government property,” he explained.
“[The Islamic Foundation] didn’t come to complain – they came in a large gang. I was out at the time but when I came back I found them hassling staff and saw a DhiTV cameraman hiding under the stairs.”
Manik said he asked the cameraman to stop shooting and give up the camera, “which he did”, and then called police.
“They suggested I return the camera, but I asked them to be present when I returned it in case they tried to destroy it and [blame] me,” he said.
The MJA disputes that the cameraman was filming in an unauthorised area, “as he was filming outside the Municipality office, an area where filming is not forbidden.”
Manik observed that “the media is too occupied with making the news instead of reporting it’, and suggested that the truth would revealed when DhiTV ran the footage.
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed police had attended the scene to observe the return of the camera to the cameraman.
“No one has reported that the camera man was injured and he has not made a complaint [himself],” Shiyam said. “So far no one has filed a case.”